Friday Hack Chat: Elecia White Talks Embedded Systems

The Arduino ecosystem, despite the comments it receives from Real Engineers™, is actually pretty great. There’s no other tool that works with as many varieties of microcontrollers, has as many libraries, and is as easy to use as the Arduino. It’s perfect for getting a project up and running quickly, but when it comes down to getting the last cycles or kilobits out of an embedded system you’ll quickly find the little blue infinity icon just won’t cut it.

Embedded system design goes far beyond the Arduino ecosystem, and for this week’s Hack Chat, we’ll be talking about squeezing the last drops out of tiny pieces of silicon.

Our guest for this week’s Hack Chat will be [Elecia White], embedded software engineer at Logical Elegance, author of O’Reilly’s Making Embedded Systems, and host of the Embedded.fm podcast.  In this chat, we’re going to be talking about moving beyond the Arduino ecosystem.

Topics for this week’s Hack Chat will include embedded systems ecosystems, how to match processors to projects, choosing IDEs, programmers, and other tools, and actually shipping all those whizz-bang microcontroller projects out to eager buyers. We’re opening up the floor to all questions, so if you have something to add, here’s a spreadsheet to guide the discussion.

Here’s How To Take Part:

join-hack-chatOur Hack Chats are live community events on the Hackaday.io Hack Chat group messaging. Hack Chats are mostly, usually at noon, Pacific time on Friday. This week is no exception and everything is going down noon, PDT, Friday, September 8th. Are time zones confusing? Not a problem; here’s a handy countdown timer!

Click that speech bubble to the right, and you’ll be taken directly to the Hack Chat group on Hackaday.io.

You don’t have to wait until Friday; join whenever you want and you can see what the community is talking about.

Hackaday’s Most Excellent Munich Adventure

Bags are packed… it’s insane the amount of random electronics I carry with me on a trip. But who doesn’t want to do some prototyping on the plane?

In case you haven’t heard, the Hackaday Crew is headed to Munich. The coming week is Electronica. We’ll be prowling “the world’s leading trade show for electronic components” looking for the jewels of interest to the hacking community. Watch our Twitter feed for updates on those adventures.

But of course, Thursday the 13th is all about Hackaday Munich. The place will be packed! During the afternoon we feature hands-on hacking of embedded systems. The hardware we’re supplying is already spoken for. But you should bring along your own dev boards to hack on, or just come to watch the fun.

Get a ticket to The Hackaday Prize party. This includes a talk by [Sprite_TM], the announcement of the Grand Prize winner for the 2014 Hackaday Prize, followed by a party with music by [DJ Muallen]. Nobody should miss this event so please help get the word out. See you there!

Judge Spotlight: Jack Ganssle

judge-spotlight-ganssle

This week we’re getting to know The Hackaday Prize Judge [Jack Ganssle] a little better. His depth of experience with embedded systems is formidable, and recently I was very interested to learn about his mission to improve the quality of the product in the embedded code universe. We’ll get to that in a little bit, but I wanted to start off with [Jack’s] answer to my final question.


judge-spotlight-q5Is there anything else you’d like our audience to know about you?

judge-spotlight-a5Intel 8008 Chip on white backgroundMy entry into this field was when the first 8 bit processor (the 8008) came out, and still find it endlessly fascinating. I write a lot about embedded topics, and give talks and seminars, on all of the continents except Antarctica (so far!). We live in heavily-wooded Finksburg, MD, which is just stunning this time of year, and, since my office is in the house, the commute is pretty tolerable. Other passions include sailing; I wrote an on-line book (www.ganssle.com/jack) about racing alone across the Atlantic. Great trip, other than losing the boat.

Continue reading “Judge Spotlight: Jack Ganssle”

Reverse engineering embedded device firmware

While not necessarily an easy thing to learn, the ability to reverse engineer embedded device firmware is an incredibly useful skill. Reverse engineering firmware allows you to analyze a device for bugs and vulnerabilities, as well as gives you the opportunity to add features if you happen to be so inclined. When it comes to things such as jailbroken iPhones, Android phones, and Nooks, you can guarantee that a close look at the firmware helped to move the process along.

[Craig] works with embedded systems quite frequently and put together a detailed walkthrough demonstrating how he reverse engineers device firmware. The subject of his hacking was a new firmware package he obtained for a Linksys WWAG120 Wireless-N router.

His tutorial walks through some of the most common reverse engineering methods and tools, which allow him to slowly unravel the firmware’s secrets. When finished, he had a working copy of the router’s boot loader, kernel, and file system – all ready to be further analyzed. His writeup includes tons of additional details, so be sure to swing by his site if reverse engineering is something you are interested in.